(Photo: Lisa (right) with Jobedge Job Coach, Mel (left).

It’s one thing to look for a job when you have a disability.

For Lisa, who lives in Adelaide, her search was compounded by a disability that she didn’t even know she had.

Lisa was in her late 50s when things started to get tough. As a qualified educator, the mother of four was pushed to resign from her job teaching at a college when her anxiety and depression were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She became a job seeker and looked for work for over a year.

“I’ve had a lot of anxiety and depression, but I never classed myself as having a disability,” Lisa said.

“I just tried to work myself through it.

“When covid happened, I’d been teaching from home for six months.

“I was due to go back to face-to-face teaching, and I just knew I didn’t want to, and I was also so isolated working at home and was having panic attacks, so I decided to resign and go on a job seeker payment,” she said.

During a phone conversation with a customer service officer at Centrelink, Lisa discovered that her mental health issues qualified her for Disability Employment Services. She was subsequently referred to Jobedge for assistance.

After her referral, Lisa spent three months working closely with the Jobedge team, looking for work and talking through life goals and career plans.

It was here that Lisa then met Job Coach Mel, who worked to create a support network to help find work that was suited to Lisa’s needs.

“Mel was so supportive and understanding. She was interested in me as a person and how she could support me in not only trying to look for a job, but to keep a job,” Lisa said.

As a Disability Employment Services (DES) provider, Jobedge combines medical insight with expertise in recruitment to give participants the best chance of reaching employment goals and improving wellbeing.

“The way I see my role is as a professional encourager in big ways and little ways,” Job Coach Mel shared.

“Lisa is an amazing person, she has a lot of drive, she just needed someone to believe in her and stand alongside her.

“In my job, I try to focus on what a person can do, not what they can’t do, whether that’s because of a disability, mental health, or physical injury,” Mel said.

After job seeking for a short amount of time, Lisa secured work as a Youth Worker at a local disability and aged care support provider.

“I love working with young people and making a positive difference in their lives,” Lisa shared.

“These children have faced many difficult and confronting situations in their young lives, and I enjoy working with them every day, seeing them blossom and grow despite their adversities.

“I get out of it as much as they do – I learn better ways of doing my job more effectively while being with them.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Lisa said.

And Lisa’s advice for anyone facing similar challenges to her?

“Be willing to accept support – there is support out there for people like us.

“Personally, I don’t feel any shame saying that I have depression or anxiety.

“I think our society is getting better at nurturing those with a disability, and employers can improve on this by finding out more about their staff and building relationships,” Lisa said.

“Never give up.

“Don’t be shy or nervous to reach out to people and ask for support because it’s out there, and with it, we can do great things.”